We met with the talented Anabelle Carpenter, founder and owner of Bella Bijou, via Zoom one afternoon for a conversation filled with her top takeaways from participating in StartUp Mendocino and a show-and-tell about her jewelry. We couldn’t help but snap some screenshots as we talked!
Tell us about your business, what you offer, and what you’re most known for!
My name is Anabelle Carpenter and my business is Bella Bijou, which means “beautiful jewels.” I’m a Mendocino local and jewelry stone setter. I started making jewelry at the Mendocino Recreation Center when I was just five years old. I use all precious metals and stones to create bohemian elegant designs. Each piece is unique and it’s inspired by nature and spirit to help you adorn your soul.
I make each unique piece with precious metals such as gold, sterling silver, and gemstones. I’m really inspired by nature. And the spirit of Mendocino.
I would say I’m maybe most known for my earrings. This is an example of them, up close so as you can see what this earring is like …
There’s a moon in the design and I like to combine different elements while keeping it very simple. I think of my style as “bohemian elegant.”
Now I’m getting more into stone setting. So that’s more like working with the actual metal, molding it into a specific shape, and working with fire and the stones — that’s really fun. Here’s my first stone-set ring, shared on Instagram:
Here’s a piece with gold, pearls, and rubies:
Amazing! What was a recent training topic with StartUp Mendocino that inspired you? What was your top take away from it?
We’ve been working on pitches — either talking to someone on the street that could be a potential customer or going into a retail store. We learned how to talk about ourselves in a more natural way, Because promoting myself is something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me!
So it’s been really helpful to have the structure of the class and my small group. I feel really comfortable and my small group leader gives really honest feedback, which I very much appreciate.
What’s starting to change for you as a result of doing this business management program?
A lot. I would say a lot is changing.
Before this, my jewelry was a business but it was more like an expensive hobby. Having the structure of meeting once a week, seeing other people in the cohort run their businesses, and then just getting all the different advice from the instructor has led to tangible results since I’ve been in the program.
I’m in two stores now and I’m doing a pop up shop some Saturdays. I’m going to do Art in the Gardens this summer. I’ve made a website, gotten my business license, and have revamped my Instagram account. In addition, a big thing is getting better at self management and being more committed to making this business happen.
Earlier, I was far more comfortable with the actual making of jewelry. And now I’m a lot more comfortable with the business side of it. And it’s actually more fun than I thought it would be because it’s my vision and I think of it as a big art project.
So you’re going from a maker to a business leader. And probably you’ll still like creating but perhaps eventually you’ll hire people to help you create jewelry?
I do have a friend who said she would be interested in duplicating my designs and I think that would be really helpful. What I’m probably most passionate about is meditating on the design of a piece, thinking about my designs — that really creative aspect of it is probably what’s most fulfilling for me.
There are a few more stores that are interested in carrying my pieces, and it would be really helpful to have someone helping me make jewelry.
What do you feel is the single biggest challenge right now in building your business or organization?
I would say probably the biggest challenge for me is marketing. Especially online marketing. I’ve been using social media pretty consistently, but I want to grow it more, to get more exposure and a bigger following. I create really good pieces that people love.
One what’s one top takeaway from the whole program so far?
I really think that the self management piece has been so huge for me because I used to think, “Oh, it’s something creative. I should only do it when I’m feeling inspired.”
And that’s limiting. I’ve found it helpful to schedule myself to work on business tasks for an hour, and then it’ll turn into many more hours, but it’s helpful to set an hour initially for getting started.
Together with one of the women in the business program, we usually talk every week for about an hour or so because what we’re each doing is similar to the other. It’s so nice to check in with her. We discuss what are your goals for the week and it’s a really personal relationship. She’s had her business a lot longer than me. So she’s become like a mentor to me. It’s been helpful to make that connection with another artist.
Yes there’s great research on mastermind relationships like that — having an accountability buddy or a mastermind where you’re setting goals together increases your success.
That totally makes sense, and it can make you feel a lot less lost — “Okay, I actually am DOING this. Yes.”
You talked about meditation and thinking about your designs, can you say more about the role of creativity in your process?
It varies on a day-to-day basis. I spend a lot of time in nature, for example on hikes and by the ocean and with trees. A lot of times, I’ll just close my eyes and jewelry visions come to me.
Or other times, I’ll think, “Oh, I like this outfit. What would look good with this outfit?”
Or I’ll do pieces collaboratively with people for custom purposes. We’ll go back and forth and figure something out.
I’m especially inspired by crystals. If I find crystals and stones that I really like, I’ll use them as the centerpiece and then build from there. I enjoy knowing the different properties of crystals. For example Labradorite is good for grounding if you have anxiety, or Moonstone is good for spiritual connection and openness.
When people ask what’s good for a specific aspect of their mental health, then we can work together to make something. Even if you don’t believe in the spiritual aspect of this, it can be about having the intention, for example, “I’m wearing Amethyst because I want to be more creative.” Then they can look at their gemstone jewelry and be reminded of their intention to be creative.
Now imagine it’s one year from now. It’s 2023. What do you hope to have accomplished one year from now after developing and building out what you’re learning now?
One thing I want to do is set up a jewelry studio in my old play house. As I increase my stonesetting work I will need a lot of equipment. So I hope to have a jewelry studio.
I hope to definitely be in more stores and have at least one employee helping me. I’d also like to build my following, build an email list, and get better at marketing.
I hope to continue to hone my style to a signature look with stone setting and intricate beading.
I’ve been making websites in my digital marketing work, and I majored in journalism as an undergrad, and have a master’s in social work. I’m really interested in mental health.
What’s something people wouldn’t otherwise know about you if they didn’t learn it from you right now?
I’m a yoga teacher. My vision includes starting a local wellness center where I can incorporate art therapy.
Is there one question that you love asking people or that I should have asked you or that I should ask the next StartUp Mendocino student?
What is a really significant memory that has inspired you? How does doing the work make you feel?
Great! Can you answer that or a moment when everything changed for you?
I guess for me it wasn’t necessarily a moment but since I was like a very little kid I’ve always been so interested in design and jewelry and fashion design. And then in college, one of my best friends started making jewelry and that inspired me. And then I sold jewelry at festivals, and that was really fun. Then I just kept doing it through grad school and through the pandemic quarantine. I have some innate draw to making jewelry. I’ve had things so planned out in my life with undergrad and grad school, in a very structured way. Jewelry has always been very meditative for me and healing — it’s a way for me to really focus on doing ONE thing, because it’s hard for me to do that. It feels like I’m meant to be on this path.
It’s amazing when there’s something you can really give your full attention to. I also paint and I write abstract poetry that conveys strong emotions. I love different forms of art. Also, while I don’t make music, I do appreciate music, and I love how practical jewelry is and how different pieces resonate differently with different people. Then to see them wearing it in their daily life — that’s the best.
Where can we find your work online and in person?
Stores: In “The Bohemian” in Point Arena, “Bloom” and “Good Life Bakery” in Mendocino
We asked Lia Patterson of Luxe Places International Realty, one of our StartUp Mendocino sponsors, why she supports the program: “As a local Realtor/Sales Manager who has built up my own business, I interact daily with other small business owners in my field, so I know first hand the importance of supporting entrepreneurs and my community as a whole. StartUp Mendocino is a great program to help these individuals make their ideas grow.”